What Are Affirmative Actions Affirming: The Vanity of Bigots or the Vanity of Bureaucrats?

Statists insist on using affirmative actions and other government “help” for protected groups despite of the failures of such methods to achieve their stated goals. To disassociate themselves from their past failures, statists seem to prefer to change the name of their group (e.g., progressives, socialists, communists, fascists) or even adopt the name of a completely different group (e.g., liberals) rather than to change their behavior.

While a simple lack of willingness to admit one’s mistakes is one possible explanation for this behavior, there are other possible explanations. When harm is done, one should ask who benefits from it and who expects to benefit. People do not always admit what is the real motivation of their actions. Sometimes, they do not admit the truth even to themselves. In the case of affirmative and similar actions, two groups that may benefit come to mind: bigots and bureaucrats. While sometimes these benefits may not be real, at least, the vanity of these groups is affirmed.

If a firm hires less qualified individuals from protected groups, other employees get to feel superior to them—the feeling that bigots appreciate. When such policies exist, even when a particular individual from a protected group is as well or better qualified than others, bigots can insist to themselves and to others that they are better qualified and the protected group members were hired only because of the affirmative actions—in many cases, qualifications are hard to measure.

Losing a promotion may also be less injurious to the vanity of bigots when they can tell themselves and others that the loss was not due to their lower abilities but due to affirmative actions that favor some group members. As long as affirmative actions are promoted, even if they are not used in particular cases, they can help protect the vanity of bigots.

The benefits to bureaucrats are even more obvious. They get to advocate and implement affirmative actions becoming our “saviors.” Being a “savior” makes one a superior person to others—that satisfies one’s vanity. Moreover, as bureaucrats increase their control of a country, more wealth and power go to them and their friends than to other people, farther satisfying the vanity of bureaucrats.

In free markets, unfair discrimination is costly. Hiring individuals from overpaid groups reduces profits of firms and makes it harder for them to compete with others. When statists do not interfere, such firms lose their market share or even go bankrupt. However, our statists work hard not only not to let the free markets to fix the problem, but they also use some free market mechanisms to make the problem worse. Statists bail out failing firms when they choose, and they make it more costly to employ the members of protected groups, letting competition to punish the firms employing these people.

Working at state universities for more than twenty years provided me many opportunities to study discrimination and its encouragement by statists by both observing and experiencing it. Recently, in one of the meetings on diversity, equity, and inclusion that I was required to attend at a state university where I work, I even heard one of the organizers say that “women chose not to work” to explain why a particular measure they implemented did not work as they claimed it would. That was adding insult to injury. Statists make life harder for those who want to earn their living honestly; then, they claim to be surprised when fewer people choose this lifestyle. However, blaming the victim is acceptable when that is done by statists. There was no apology neither to me nor to other females in the meeting.

Earlier activists who spoke up against unfair discrimination fought for eliminating unfair discrimination forced or protected by government (e.g., the right to vote that by law depended on sex and race). On the other hand, statist activists want to move us closer to a master-slave society where they want to be masters that promise to treat all slaves equally. Different versions of this idea have been tried and failed to take care of the “protected” people many times through history. My first twenty years, I lived in one such failure—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, instead of learning from history, statists try to control education and other information systems so nobody would learn from the past mistakes of statists.


Dalia Marciukaityte

Dr. Marciukaityte previously she served as Humana/Mike McAlister Endowed Professor at Louisiana Tech University. Her business experience is with Strategic Management Group and Merrill Lynch.

She was born and raised in Lithuania, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. Her B.S. and M.S. degrees in management are from Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania. She moved to the United States to study at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D. in finance with a minor in economics is from Drexel University.

Dr. Marciukaityte has published articles in Financial Management, the Journal of Corporate Finance, the Journal of Financial Research, the Financial Analysts Journal, the Financial Review, the Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Behavioral Finance, and other journals. Her research interests are in government regulations, market competition, corporate finance, and behavioral finance. She has taught Financial Management, Financial Markets, International Finance, and Financial Econometrics, working with undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students.